Winter is fast approaching and for many people, that means using firewood to heat their homes. The key to getting the most out of your firewood is proper moisture content, said Jeff Renton, project manager with the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society.
Ideal moisture content for burning is 15 to 20 per cent. Firewood with higher moisture content can be slower to ignite, produce greater amounts of smoke, and leave more deposits in chimneys. More importantly, you aren’t getting the maximum heat delivery as much of the energy used is directed to drying out the wood.
Newly harvested wood typically contains 35 to 60 per cent moisture, but if cut and left covered for a year to dry, it should reach a 15 to 20 per cent moisture content level. Properly dried firewood has darker wood, cracking in the wood, and when two pieces are hit together, make a hollow sound.
Surface area and stacking are the most important considerations when drying wood out.
“The smaller the piece, the more area that moisture can be lost through,” said Renton. “Stacking in single rows, off the ground, will allow airflow on at least two sides of the split logs.”
It’s also best to have the stack in an open area where the sun can reach it for at least part of the day, he said.